Arrogance, Not Immigration

As we write Eric Cantor’s political obituary, the cause of death should be arrogance, not immigration.

When I heard Cantor was out,  I immediately thought of Scott Brown defeating Martha Coakley for Senate in Massachusetts.  Coakley ran a lazy campaign, taking victory for granted in the deep blue state.  She famously asked if she should have stood in the cold, shaking hands at Fenway Park.  Um, yes, Martha, that is exactly what you should have done.  Like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, voters don’t respond well to being ignored.  Come election day, they will boil your bunny, metaphorically speaking.

Cantor spent too much time being majority leader and too little being congressman from the seventh district of Virginia.  Now he will be neither.

Yes, David Brat got a boost from right-wing radio hosts like Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin, but they also regularly tout candidates who flop.

Yes, Brat got a boost for running on an anti-immigration platform at a time when right-wing media are focused on the flood of unaccompanied young people coming across the border and overwhelming authorities.  But down in South Carolina, Sen. Lindsey “Butters” Graham, who supports immigration reform, won without even having to face a runoff because he took his primary seriously and protected himself in every way he could think of.  By contrast, Cantor brushed Brat off like an annoying mosquito.

Butters will be back next year because he ran full of fear, Cantor won’t be back because he ran full of himself.

Where Do They Find These People?

One of SC Senator Lindsey “Butters” Graham’s primary opponents is a pastor named Det Bowers who says that women are to blame for 95% of divorces because, even though the husbands may be guilty of adultery, the wives are guilty of “abominable idolatry.”  You may be wondering WTF abominable idolatry is.  Turns out it has nothing to do with golden calves, it’s about the wives loving their children too much.

Two things:  First, under what rocks does the GOP find these people to run for office?  Second, he actually does have a point — a teeny, tiny point — because most men really are such big babies.

Sochi Hypocrisy?

WaPo has an interesting story* pointing out that eight U. S. states have so-called “no homo promo” bans in their school curricula that are very much like Russia’s anti-gay laws.  These states — and I’m sure you already guessed some of them — are Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona, Utah, and Oklahoma.

But I’m still not watching the Olympics because of the dog killing.  You spent $50 billion and you couldn’t build an animal shelter?

* “Eight U. S. states have policies similar to Russia’s ban on gay propaganda,” Niraj Chokski

Quote of the Day

“I know that I was my mother’s first priority and that she wanted a better life for me than the one she was living. She worked 2 jobs and went to community college at night. She refused to repeat the life her family struggled in growing up.”

Texas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis’ older daughter, Amber.

Davis’ younger daughter, Dru, also released an open letter defending her mother.  Davis has been subjected to vicious GOP attacks about her personal life and her parenting.

Davis — and women in general — can’t win.  The right-wing claims she was a bad mother, but it’s not as if they’d shut up if she had chosen abortion instead.

Some of the slurs are just incredibly vile and disgusting.  A former head of the South Carolina Republican Party,  Todd Kincannon, a truly sick bastard, has tweeted things like this:

“Davis took a short break from blowing campaign contributors today to condemn remarks made by Mike Huckabee.”

“I wonder how many knee pads she went through at Harvard?”

“I suspect Texas voters care that Wendy Davis was potentially going to Harvard coke parties instead of caring for her children.” (I love that “potentially.”  Hell, I could “potentially” run off with Derek Jeter.)

“I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who was as much of a whore as Wendy Davis.”

Those tweets say way more about him (and his party) than they do about her.  Get yourself some help, Kincannon.  Get yourself some help, GOP.  I’m sure there’s a group rate for y’all.

A Gentle Reminder That Perversion Is Bipartisan

Whatever happens to Keith Olbermann (and I think we all know his upcoming stint on ESPN will end badly), I will always remember fondly that when Sen. David Vitter (R-SC) was caught up in his prostitution scandal back in 2007, Olbermann would quickly and quietly mutter “diaper” when referring to the Palmetto Perv.

Vitter was named in the DC Madame scandal, but then it emerged that just as members of Congress have homes both in DC and their states, Vitter had ho’s both in DC and back home.  And he managed to stand out among his brothel’s clientele in New Orleans because he liked to let his good times roll while wearing a diaper.  Yes, he managed to shock NOLA prostitutes in how he preferred to be “Pampered.”

And if you think things couldn’t get weirder, let me add that when Vitter was running for Senate, one of his ads showed him changing one of his kids’ diapers.

I bring this up because last night MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry was talking about Vitter’s bill banning a federal bailout for Detroit (no one is proposing such a bailout, but that never stops the party from the alternate universe), and she referenced his “unlawful and, shall we say, infantile infidelity.”

More subtle than Keith, but much appreciated anyway.

So make your Weiner jokes, GOP, but don’t forget that members of both parties can be equally bizarre and creepy when it comes to their members.

Graham Figures Out Marco Has Abandoned Him

Sen. Lindsey “Butters” Graham (R-SC) suddenly seems to realize that Marco Rubio (R-FL), his fellow “Gang of Eight” member on immigration reform, is walking running away from the very reform he helped draft, leaving Graham twisting in the wind.

Poor Butters says he’s puzzled.  Um, here’s a clue for you, Butters — 2016.

The South Carolina Race

From “Behind Mark Sanford’s turnaround,” Alex Isenstadt, Politico*:

“In Colbert Busch, Sanford was running against a rookie opponent who made some rookie mistakes. While the former governor barnstormed the district, Colbert Busch seemed to be in hiding. She rarely held public events — and when she did, she was sometimes in a hurry to leave.

“At a Chamber of Commerce forum last week, the Democrat delivered four minutes of remarks and was then hustled out of the room by a team of handlers. As baffled reporters trailed, Colbert Busch made a beeline for the parking lot.

“For a still largely unknown candidate who needed to introduce herself to voters, it was a head-scratcher of a moment.

“’I’ve never seen a candidate sprint like that,’ one reporter said at the time.

“Though she turned in a strong performance in the sole debate she agreed to, at other times Colbert Busch had difficulty articulating her positions. Any Democrat running in a conservative district has to thread the needle when it comes to talking about issues, but Colbert Busch had particular trouble. Asked in a CNN interview on Tuesday whether she would support the Manchin-Toomey gun control bill, she struggled to come up with an answer.”

Although Colbert Busch ultimately lost by about nine points, a couple of weeks ago, she seemed to have a nine-point lead.  So she decided to coast and not take any risks.  But as a newcomer and a Dem in a GOP district, she had to reassure voters that she would respect and represent their views and she had to do it with policy specifics.  Certainly House Dem leadership would have given her a pass to vote against them more often than other Dems.  She needed to make that abundantly clear, and to specify precisely where she would differ from her party.  Her vagueness really cost her and allowed Sanford to portray her as way too liberal for the district, as Nancy Pelosi’s twin.  She had to run against both Sanford and Pelosi. 

You don’t win by hiding and ducking.  If she’d presented herself aggressively and consistently as a conservative Dem who would sometimes subordinate both her own and her party’s positions to honor the wishes of her district, she would have had a better shot.  I’m thinking here of Rudy Giuliani’s second run for mayor, after he lost the first time.  He was told he couldn’t win without Upper West Side women, and he couldn’t win Upper West Side women without supporting abortion rights.  So he told them that while he personally opposed abortion, as mayor, he wouldn’t do anything to change or restrict abortion rights in the city. 

Congressmen are known as “Representative.”  Colbert Busch needed to convince South Carolina’s First District that she could be their representative, and she failed.  Maybe it was just a bridge too far for both her and the voters of her district.  

“Hiker” Sanford Now Sprinting to Finish

Chris Cillizza reports* that both Dem and GOP strategists believe that Mark Sanford is gaining momentum in the closing days of his House race against Elizabeth Colbert Busch.  The race is considered a toss up.

To me, it comes down to whether people vote for a human being or a number.  If they view Sanford as a guy who will reliably line up  with the GOP in Congress, basically as a number and not a person,  it makes sense to choose him because he reflects the policy views of the district better than Colbert Busch.  It’s a conservative district, and whatever else he is, Sanford is a conservative.  So Tuesday’s result will depend on whether Charleston-area voters want to send a message about ethics (he used tax $ to fly to Argentina to see his mistress) and morality, or just want to send another vote to the GOP column in the House.

But you can argue that it does no harm to send Colbert Busch for the rest of the term because of the solid GOP House majority.  If you dislike Sanford enough, you can end his political career and send another conservative (maybe even another Sanford — Jenny) to Congress in 2014.

* “Mark Sanford just might win South Carolina seat,” WaPo